Children Grieve Too
Children, like adults, grieve the loss of loved ones. Whether they are dealing with the passing of a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, friend, or neighbor they will deal with some form of grief. Death is hard for a child of any age to understand so it is important for us, as adults, to recognize the signs of grief in our children.
While children may not understand death and the subsequent grieving process, most adolescents do, but they may fight showing their emotions and tend to hold in their feelings. Some children may also hold in their emotions, so signs of grieving may be less clear and hard to recognize. Changes in behavior or even physical sickness may be a sign of a child grieving. Children’s lack of understanding affects their ability to process what happened and cope with their feelings. Some children may exhibit difficulty concentrating or sleeping, show anger or sadness, or display some forms of physical sickness like a stomachache or headache.
Kids model adult behavior. This does not mean adults should hide their grief, but it is important to talk to children about it in an age-appropriate language. Share with them your feelings and explain that it is okay to feel the way you are feeling, and it is okay if they feel that way, too. Some children may find comfort in having this discussion with you as this opens the door for grieving together.
When we lose a love one and the grief sets in, it can be easy to assume that children involved were too young to understand or be affected by the loss. Check in with your children. Comforting them through a loss will, in turn, bring comfort to you as well.